Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December Update

I must start this blog entry by yet again apologizing for not being as regular of an updater as other volunteers here. Life is good. Life is boring. Life is fun. A lot has happened this last month. In fact, possibly too much stuff to sit down and type out a massively long entry on every detail of my life here. Instead, I have decided to first make a list of the top highlights from the previous month and then include a more detailed account.

● Bob has left the school and transferred to a school on Savai'i. I am staying, but no volunteer will be replacing him
● I got a cell phone
● The last day of school was November 30th.
● I cannot stay at my house during the break so I will be causing trouble on the main island for the month of January
● Jordan came over to visit me at my house followed by Sarah the next day. We ate great food and watched good movies
● I headed into Apia the weekend of the 2nd for a going away party for Julia and Mike. Both volunteers that I will miss. (See you on the other side)
● I had to head back out to Savai'i with Sara to spend a nice night at one of the Beach Fale Resorts on Savai'i.
● I headed back to Apia for the weekend of the 9th for the International Volunteers Day. Peace Corps and Avanoa Tutusa both had booths.
● I went hiking with 9 other volunteers to Lake Lanotoo again. It poured, it was MUDDY and we got disgustingly dirty. It was fun. Me being the graceful woman that I am fell at least 10 times each way, almost taking out another volunteer at one point.
● I went to the beach with Sarah – we wore bikinis
● There was a coup in Fiji
● I am not going to Fiji
● I am still going to Australia for Christmas to spend time with an old AYAD (Australian Youth Ambassadors) volunteer and her family
● Group 77 swears in on Wednesday

So, awhile ago Bob decided that he wasn’t really doing what he wanted to be doing at the school and he has transferred to an Art school doing something he loves and something he is passionate about. He will be teaching art instead of welding. The school is really excited to get him. I have no doubt that he will do well at his new assignment, but I will miss my brother. All pretences aside, he has turned into someone I think about like a brother. I will miss my neighbor. Our rants and raves, the buckets of ava, watching Veronica Mars (a show in which I now have all the PC males obsessed with), and eating food Bob made so spicy it burned me a few times.

My school had its prizegiving (graduation) on the 28th of November. It was a little sad realizing I was saying goodbye to a few of these students for the last time. During the last days between the prizegiving and the actual last day of school (which involved a talent show from each class), I had many visits from the students. Every night a few of the Year 13 students came by to hang out and just sit and chat awhile. I gave a few of the girls’ small gifts. One included my True Value hat. (Dad, can I get yet another one?) For the class I made a stamp for the skirts and ie’s they have to wear to school that says the school name on it. They loved it. More than half of the class put them on their clothes. Since it was the last day of school and they were not returning, it was okay. It was a blast those last few days getting to know some of them a little better. One of them (who actually never was a student of mine) even asked for my mailing address in the states so she can keep in touch when I return home. I realize that I will truly miss these kids when I head back home.

After the last day of school another volunteer and I biked out to a beach resort near me to visit one of my students that got a job there. We hung out at the beach for awhile until I biked out to meet Jordan who biked to my place. Sarah came out to visit the next day and both nights it was a fun time of just relaxing, chatting, cooking, watching movies and enjoying my girl time. Unlike almost every other post in PC, PC Samoa has more guys than girls, so lately girl time has been a valuable part of my life here.

The first weekend of the month, Julia and Mike headed back home. Over the last 6 months or so, Julia has become a close friend. I had a lot of fun going out to her place and eating GREAT food and playing very spirited games of Yahtzee. It has been a blast hanging out with her and getting to know Mike better (her housemate, much like Bob and me). On Monday I went out to her house to help her pack and get ready for the driver to pick her and Mike up and take them to the airport. We chatted and played one last game (Uno) for old time’s sake.

After they left I had to head back out to my place on Savai'i to get ready for Sara to come out and visit. I packed and the next day headed into Salelologa to meet her at the boat terminal. We got on a bus and headed out to the beach resort. The bus was crowded. It was so crowded that I had to sit on her lap the whole way there. It is a long bus ride. When we got there another volunteer that lives near the area biked out to meet us and the 3 of us hung out in the fale chatting and enjoying the quiet time. While the night was fun and I it was a blast seeing Sara since I don’t see here a lot, it wasn’t the chill quiet night we were expecting. The owners of the place were celebrating the birthday of one of the kids and there was a lot of dancing and loud music. Our fale was next to the place where everyone was hanging out. So, while it wasn’t a peaceful quiet evening, it was what I had needed: a time to chill with Sara away from Apia and my place.

The very next day (Saturday the 9th) I headed back into Apia. International Volunteers day was celebrated that day. A lot of the NGOs and other organizations in Samoa got together and had like a festival. There were booths, hotdogs, soda, flag football, inflated playhouses, and softball (I played and got a hit and made it to 1st base). Avanoa Tutusa had a table with craft supplies for the little kids there to draw and cut and paste. PC had a board with a picture of every volunteer in country with a map pointing to their states and a few facts about PC in general. It was a fun day. We all got free tee-shirts for being involved (always a plus with PC volunteers), and got to ride on a fire truck and run around playing games. That night we went out dancing for a going away party for a few more volunteers. (Skye and Cecilia I will miss you guys, too!) I have never had more fun and been more sweaty (it was a hot night) in my life.

The next day, one of the volunteers had organized a mass hike to Lake Lanotoo for anyone interested in going. I had been before and there wasn’t anything else going on that day. 10 of us piled into a taxi van and headed out that way. It was a fairly nice day as we all piled into the van. I had found my sunglasses and lathered myself in a lot of sunscreen. I swear the second we stepped out of the van it started POURING rain. The rainy season is upon us again and Samoa is a rainforest. We got absolutely poured on for awhile. The trail itself isn’t a nice dirt trail but a trail of red clay. Let me tell you, wet clay is hard to walk on. Especially when you sometimes have trouble on flat pavement like I sometimes do. I fell at least 10 times each way. At one point there was a pretty steep place and I slid down it and almost took out another volunteer who had slid. We were absolutely covered in mud by the time we made it to the lake. We swam around in the lake for awhile. Kevin caught a goldfish with his hands and then released it. When we got out of the water we found leeches on our bodies. When we finally headed back, the group got split into 2 parts and one group found a short cut back. Now that we are back we are finding that red clay is also hard to remove from clothes and shoes.

Tuesday Sarah and I wanted to take a break from all the meetings (me with Avanoa Tutusa) and work for the new groups’ swear in (Sarah). We put on our bathing suits, headed to Palolo deep to lie on the beach for awhile and an hour later we were rained out. It is nice to have a place to unwind so close to town.

Yeah, so travel plans. I am not going to go into too much detail here, but we all know there was a coup in Fiji. I have decided it would be in my best interest to not travel there at this time. I am hoping to push it towards January while school is still out, but I will wait. I am still planning on heading to Australia to visit Clair. I am SO excited. It will be nice to visit her family and spend Christmas with them. I have a couple of weeks until I leave.

So, I will try and keep things updated while I am in Australia and I will post some pictures soon. My batteries in my camera died recently and batteries here aren’t that great. In terms of pictures and blog updates, sorry I have been so sporadic lately. Things have calmed down and I am getting ready for a fun vacation.

Until next time…


At 11:51 PM, Blogger Liz said...

Thanks for the update, Cous! I hope you have a great vacation - You deserve it!

Happy Holidays!

At 8:57 PM, Anonymous Aunt Susan said...

Hi Julya, Sounds like you have great travel plans, and I'm praying that your Christmas Holiday will be blessed and peaceful. You probably know, but just in case you are unaware, that your Dad's and my cousin Jerry is currently in Australia visiting his son Jeremy, who is there for the school year. I have no idea where they are, nor the dates of Jerry's visit (so that's not much help)! But there -- two or three members of the same extended family on the same far-flung other side of the world continent at the same time!
Love you Julya!


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